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POET V I BY YAEL BEN-ISRAEL PASHA’S At the table next to ours a group of tourists is discussing the menu seriously and I try to make out their accent as they contemplate the salads. We don’t get a menu, anymore they know us here they don’t really need to ask, anymore to know exactly what we want. We’re regulars, now, exchanging handshakes and how-are-yous with the owners and the head waiter; we’re as local as the Arabic-speaking families filling up the nearby tables \(head-covers over an elegant suit We brought some friends here once back before things got quiet again and they said, surprised, leaning back in their soft chairs, `Why, when you’re here you can imagine everything is normal!’ FOREIGN LANGUAGES I speak to dogs, cats, birds, snails, trees, if they look friendly… I would never talk down just because they don’t talk back; always a polite ‘good morning. I growl a woof at German shepherds, yap at surprised terriers, mrrroww at the nice cats, hiss at the grumpy ones, caw back at crows, smile at flowers; it’s just the humans that always look confused. YAEL BEN-ISRAEL was born in Jerusalem, Israel, in 1982 and still lives there. She is studying for a master’s degree in Translation Studies. This is her first publication. Naomi Shihab Nye 30 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JUNE 15, 2007